Monday, 27 August 2012

eTwinning e la realtà - Europe Calling

Summer - as we said in another post, for a teacher it's time for friends, relax, holidays, and edu tech !

True, we couldn't stop exploring the web & meeting online, and given more time, lots of us eTwinners spent the hot afternoons trying out new tools, planning future projects and devising new ways to spread our ideas and experiences throughout Europe.

And, as for us...

The 'eTwinning e la realtà' teachers' room went on being our meeting point, and that's where Antonella first got the crazy idea of a multilingual issue of our e-magazine. "We can translate our articles... we can ask our partners for help... we will help each other... we will make it!"
We were a bit anxious at first, but she was right - we could definitely rely on the eTwinners' skills in collaboration.

So, a group of enthusiastic/crazy teachers spent some of their summer translating the articles, laughing when they got mixed up or when they needed some funny periphrasis because "I can't find the word", asking each other for help, and chatting a lot. We were thrilled: we could get in contact with teachers from different countries, going beyond the national dimension.

Here's the outcome of our summer collaboration: a special multilingual issue of the "eTwinning e la realtà" emagazine, with articles in English, Hungarian, French & Italian.
That's our eTwinning gift to celebrate the new school year.

We hope other eTwinners, throughout Europe, will read our stories and find them useful and inspiring.
And we hope we'll go on collaborating, and widening our circle.

I thank all of the teachers who created the ebook.

Welcome back to school everybody... enjoy our new emagazine!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

EU citizens - Your rights, your future: consultation on the 2013 EU Citizenship Report

It is difficult to talk about the EU today without feeling sad, or at least concerned. To be honest, the EU we live in today is quite different from the one we dreamt of 20 years ago. I remember the excitement and the hopes after the Maastricht Treaty. Now, I know many EU citizens will say the Treaty (which led to the introduction of the Euro) was the beginning of the end.

It looks like we've lots of things to discuss, and much less to celebrate in the EU nowadays, but in 2013 we'll celebrate the 20th birtday of the EU as we know it today (- entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty - November 1993). And despite the problems, the crisis, the inequalities, I think we should celebrate: being together is to me a step forward in the growth of Europe. I still hope we'll manage to overcome these issues and develop a sense of belonging, not only to our countries, but to Europe as a whole. A sense of belonging that will guarantee peace, freedom, a shared attitude towards ethical issues (a widely recognized set of laws!) and why not, economical growth.

That's why I believe it's our duty, as European citizens, to take part in the public consultations promoted by the EU: when our opinion is asked, we have to answer. We have to give our opinion, which is our little contribution to the building of the EU we dream of. Because we still dream of a better Europe, don't we?

The European Commission launched in May 2012 the Consultation on the 2013 EU Citizenship Report "EU citizens - Your rights, your future". The deadline is 9 september 2012, so you must hurry up !!! :)

In their words "We want to know about any obstacles you might be facing in your daily life as a European Citizen living, studying, working, shopping or simply travelling within the EU. We would also like to hear your ideas about how to remove these obstacles and further develop EU citizenship."

I'm sorry this consultation was not as widely known as it could have: unfortunately, many of the European Commission initiatives are publicized only on official or specific websites. That's why we should regularly visit the official website of the European Union .
And by the way, if you have a blog, or take part in forums, socials etc., please let the others know about the consultation: the more the citizens who give their opinion, the closer to our dreams the new EU will be.

We can change things. We still can have a better EU, not only for our students, but for ourselves as well. Let's try, together.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

New projects: work in progress

Good Twins try to meet not only online, but also off line! That's why we decided to forget skype and the eTwinning chat for a while, and meet face to face in front of a nice traditional Italian meal (if you're interested: lasagne, carbonara & pici: look for them in your dictionary!).
Here are some pics of the happy Twins!
Note: it looks like we're just having fun, but in fact we're creating new amazing fantastic projects. Wait and see...


Mint Igazi Ikrek, nemcsak online, hanem off line is! Ezèrt kis idore megfeledkeztunk a skype ès az eTwinning chat hasznàlatàròl, inkàbb a szemèlyes talàlkozòt vàlasztottuk, ès mellè egy finom, hagyomànyos olasz ètelsort: lasagne, carbonara & pici: a szòtàrban megtalàljàtok mindkettot, ha szeretnètek! ).
és  jojjon nèhàny fotò a boldog Ikrekrol!
Figyelem: ugy tunhet, mi csak szòrakozunk, de valòjàban èppen csodàlatos, fantasztikus jovobeli projekteken dolgozunk.
Vàrjatok, ès meglàtjàtok...

Mònika :)

Una bellissima giornata da ricordare, un piacevole momento per rievocare progetti degli anni passati e per programmarne di nuovi ! Il tutto nella splendida cornice di Siena, in compagnia di due colleghe straordinarie.
Quale migliore incentivo per cominciare bene l'anno scolastico?


Monday, 20 August 2012

I like it social

I often say I'm a very social person. Which means I truly enjoy the company of other people - and I'm not thinking of such a rare thing as friendship now - I just like talking, listening, having fun, laughing together. You don't need to be friends to have a good and fruitful time with someone.
My mother says she can remember me as a child chatting up people from my pushchair. And no surprise, I grew up as a friendly extrovert, always looking for like-minded people (and also for opposites - after all they're supposed to attract each other, aren't they?).
But as for technology, that's another story. As a young girl, I found it "unpoetic" and just kept away. At university I wrote my dissertation with a pc, but only because I had to. I was trapped in something between a posh pose and a religion: ice-cold technology didn't look artistic enough for a student of  literature and poetry, and what's more, all of the teachers made sure to tell us technology would be the end of human creativity.
But I was curious, and once out of school & University (i.e., thinking with my own head only) I cautiously began my make-friend-process with the web. Eventually, I couldn't resist the social aspect of Web 2.0.

I started by chance, with the easyest place to exchange ideas: a forum. One day I googled the name of my favourite singer and there it was, a fantastic fan-forum with plenty of info, pics, lyrics, people and discussions. I was vowed and joined in. I quickly learned about profile pic, nickname, avatar, customize your page and stuff like that. I liked it. I liked reading and posting. Unfortunately, I also quickly learned that lots of people = frequent flames. Now, there's enough of squabbles we can't avoid in everyday life, but we surely can avoid those online. So when the place got too noisy for me, I did what I would in any noisy room: I left.
Anyway, that was a great start. I made true friends there (those who go from online to offline!), had a very good time, and learned a lot about interacting online. I was then - and still am - convinced there's no need of any special "netiquette": common sense and good manners are enough. You're dealing with real people, despite their nicknames and funny avatars, so just act as you would in real life. I know, it's not that simple. Some people are addicted to the "no name / no face" status, and they feel free to do their worst. Still, I wonder how it's possible to fight when talking of a common passion.

Since then, I've been here and there in different forums about my different passions. I definitely think a forum is the perfect place to exchange ideas. I like it better than the chat - too fast and too ephemeral for me :)
What I like in forums is that they are like rooms with a door constantly open - which means that you can come and go as you like, that you'll hopefully find "old friends" and also new faces (= new ideas), that you'll be free to leave for good if you feel so (but please, do it without drama!).

Now, can you see what a great resource a forum can be in education?
It took a while for me to realize it, but once I did, I got involved in all kind of communities about school / education / edu tech / professional development... you name it. Most educational websites provide a forum for professionals of the sector, and it can be very useful when you're dealing with specific needs.
Of course, if you're planning to create your own forum, there are lots of free forum hosts that can be useful. Just google it, and you'll find plenty. Anyway, remember it can be hard work, both for the setting up and the moderating. What's more, lots of free forum hosts keep your data from you, so if you grow and want to move, you'll have to start anew.
So, for working with students, I suggest either creating a simple blog (blogger and wordpress are excellent) or exploiting the eTwinning platform, setting a project and using the pupils' corner (nice forum & chat tools there).
True, blog and forum are two completely different philosophies: but you'll have to try for yourself and find out!

Going on with my story, from the forum experience I quickly went on to myspace and then to Facebook and Twitter. I found Twitter to be a great tool to keep you up to date about the subjects you're interested in (just be careful with whom you're following!), so I keep it for professional use only.
As for Facebook, I know it can be controversial, but I like it a lot. I'm struggling to keep it for friends only (I've been living and studing here and there in Europe a lot, and fb is a great place to keep in contact with distant friends) but of course it's difficult. What are you supposed to do with your colleagues asking you for friendship in fb? say "no thanks"? So it's a mix of the two, personal and professional. And it works.
Note: for students, I follow my personal rule "no fb friendship while you're in one of my classes". It saves me lots of trouble. Anyway, I know of colleagues who created a specific fb profile as a teacher, set fb pages for their classes and find them quite motivating for students. I would still prefer dedicated spaces, safe for children as well (i.e., eTwinning again!) but it's up to you.
Don't underestimate the power of Facebook as a professional development space, though: some of the specific pages can be very interesting.
Anyway, when particularly dealing with my profession, I use LinkedIn and I find it the perfect place to look for and exchange information. If you've never tried the LinkedIn groups, I think you should: lots of committed people, lots of ideas, lots of opportunities in the fields you like.

I'm at the moment exploring Google+ (I love Google!) but that's work in progress for me!

And if you're really brave (or a bit crazy, just like me), you may want to have a look at the new growing socials, like LetsLunch, the social dining, where you set up a profile explaining what you do, what fields and people you're interested in and when you are free to get together... and you eventually arrange a meal I suppose! Or you can try Pinterest , a virtual pinboard where you can organize and share images, videos and other web materials, or travel with CouchSurfing or... well, you should just explore the web on your own, you'll have much fun. What's for sure, is that lots of websites are widening today their "social" aspect. Getting together online is something we appearently like a lot.

Bottom line: believe it or not, I still have time for going out with friends & family and enjoying quality face2face time with those I love !!!